Faith without Courage
Many years ago, the space exploration Guru’s of the world, had faith...belief, that they would not only send man [kind], into space, but that he [man], would also walk on the moon: that achievement was realised 40 years ago...
...now they [NASA], are talking about landing man on an asteroid of all places – the crazy thing is, they’ll probably do it; how? I’m just left wondering, because as far as I’m aware, asteroids are surrounded by ice and rock debris, which would have to be navigated onto, and off of the asteroid...none-the-less, like I mentioned before, they will probably do it! Why? Because they have the faith to do it, and they have the courage to do it.
Now of course there are many risks; human life being the greatest , and financial disaster being another: The US government already injects $99 Billion into the N.A.S.A space program. Despite the ultimate risk of losing human life, and remembering that, many astronauts are highly skilled and accomplished, highly qualified individuals; it is still considered a worth while risk for the advancement of science, testing of cutting edge technological advancements, and of course to receive the ‘bragging rights’ of being the FIRST to do it.
In the Bible, there are many examples of individuals integrating those two things that organisations like N.A.S.A hold on to so tightly – Faith, and Courage.
Young David was an absolute ambassador in this area, not only having faith that with God, he could take on this giant of a man- Goliath, with a few stones, but digging deep, and taking courage into battle also...Was there a risk? Of course, it was in everyone else’s opinion, a suicide mission.
Jesus’ disciple Peter, stepped out of the boat in a raging storm – he showed faith and he showed courage, and again there were great risks, because of course he could have easily drowned: after all it is not normal to step out of a boat expecting to walk on water, and especially not in a storm. I say expecting to walk on water, very intentionally here. If Peter had not expected to walk on water, then he would not have been showing faith, and he would not of walked on water, because it was faith that allowed him to do it; but he also showed courage, and in my opinion, a lot of it...he was not only facing death in a way of drowning, but he was possibly facing ridicule from his companions for being a complete idiot! There is a book by John Ortberg titled, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat”, and how ture that is...Peter only walked on water because he was willing to get out of the boat, and he had both the faith, and the courage to do it.
So why then if we Christians have such great faith (in the ultimate power), do we show such little courage?
Maybe if we take a moment to observe the actions of a small child, we might gain some insight.
I recall a memory of when I was very young, I think about 4 years old. My father had an interest in modelling – in particular WW2 aircraft; he would spend hours making these plastic models up, painting them with care and applying the decals. Dad would hang the planes from the ceiling as though the planes were in battle. One day I took a wooden broom handle and proceeded to smash the models down – the result, a hiding and a half!
I look back and wonder, what was I thinking? I was discussing this memorable childhood event with Donna recently, and was recalling the moment: I said to her “you know... I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t trying to be a vandal; in fact it was a fun joyous moment...actually, I think I may have been trying to shoot them down”
You see in my ‘child mind’, there was no cognisance of cause effect; I was simply playing a game...unfortunately, the game involved the destruction of my Dads’ beloved model planes.
Looking back, I believe that I was not trying to be naughty; I just had not the knowledge of the risks involved, and the outcome of my actions.
So with the term ‘cause effect’ in mind – would it be fair to assume that, with knowledge of the possible outcomes of our decisions, we ride the back of our ‘faith’ with caution, instead of harnessing faith and courage together!
To take a risk, is not to throw caution to the wind; it is an act of courage, and faith, despite the knowledge of the risk. It is not wrong to take a risk, after all mission and aid workers all around the world are exposed to many risks, [in fact many of them put themselves in risky situations on purpose, in aid of helping fellow mankind], yet in their minds and hearts, the achievement of the work they do in helping others somehow out weighs the risk...why? Because they have faith, and they have courage!
Did you know, that what we as laymen call insurance, in the industry, is called ‘Risk’? An insurance broker does not sell insurance; an insurance broker sells ‘Risk’. Doesn’t it seem ludicrous that despite the huge imbalance between our pitiful annual premiums, and the potential lump-sum payout we might receive in the event of a claim, an insurance company is still willing to enter into such a contract with us? Somewhere in there, amidst the figures and economics of it all, there ultimately has to be an degree of faith, and courage, by the insurance company, that their whole cliental will not submit a claim at the same time.
Earlier this year, my cousin, [Brendan], put his hand up to go to Afghanistan as part of a peace keeping team for six months; he’s an accomplished navel recruit, with many feathers in his cap.
I asked my Mum,” why would he want to put his hand up to go there?” Her reply:” because he wants the extra money to pay for his wedding”
Wow! So heres a guy in his late to mid twenties, recently engaged to a beautiful young lady, and he’s willing to face an environment which could kill him...which would stop the wedding...period! and he’s doing this to pay for that wedding...[somewhat of an oxy-moron don’t you think?]
I haven’t spoken to him since he left, but he must have some ‘faith’ that he’s going to return, [even though it’s not entirely in his control], and he must have had a huge amount of courage! And associated known risks? HUGE!
My Mum text me on a picturesque day in October this year: the texyt read, “what a beautiful day for Brendan to return to NZ” I replied, “is he back for good?” she text back; “yes – he wouldn’t have offered if he had realised what he was going into.
Now I’m thinking to myself “Ah, hello – doesn’t he watch the news?”
So I asked “so what? Did he have a bad experience or something?” [I was fishing]
Mum replies “the responsibility!”
So now I’m really scratching my head...My cousin puts his hand up to peace keep in Afghanistan...a war zone, with nutters running around with guns and rocket launchers; he could have been mamed or killed at any time, and it’s the responsibility that he had an issue with? ...we are so on different pages!
Ok, so to put it in perspective, his job was to transport important people – VIP’s from place to place without getting blown up – so yeah, that’s a big responsibility...but you could still die! – DAH!
My point is, some of us with faith and courage, take the risks on head-on, knowing very well that our plans might not work out the preferred way, but also knowing that we have a BIG God to put our faith in, and a courage that he has implanted in us.
-There’s a little plaque type thing that my mother in-law has on her dresser; it reads “don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how BIG God is”.
I’ve read that plaque so many times, yet sometimes as a Christian in a human world, I forget it! Bombarded by the fears that man imposes on me, because ‘man’ has little faith, and even less courage. But still, despite the fact that I have a great God walking with me , and despite the fact that I know he can move mountains and my life is in HIS hands, I allow mans lack of faith and courage to drag me down, and weaken my grip on my faith...ever so subtlely driving wedges between me and MY God and HIS purpose for me.
I allow fear to penetrate the cracks that are exposed, and I don’t step out of the boat, because my fellow man, and my human mind tells me I will sink and drown!
This fear is of Satan, it is NOT of God! Fear is a Sin, just as is anxiety. We become anxious, and we become fearful because we take our eyes off of Christ- who has told us “do not fear, for I am with you”. God is actually commanding us “DO NOT FEAR!” – He isn’t giving us an option.
Let just go back to the story of Peter getting out of the boat for a moment. If I think back to all of the times I’ve heard the story, [and sermons] of Jesus and Peter walking on water, I can only recall emphasis on faith, yet before Jesus even got near the boat, he said [to the disciples], “take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt 14:27. Although as Christians we tend to put the weight on faith in this story, it is an obvious lesson in the combination of both faith and courage. A story that also reminds us that we are commanded to take courage, have faith and to not be afraid.
In the story, we read that the disciples were freaking out a bit, so Peter yells out to Jesus, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to me to come to you on the water”, Matt 14:28. Now Jesus did not yell back, “yeah sweet as Peter, if you’re up for it, you could try walking over to me”; Instead Jesus said “Come” ...a simple but effective commandment.
God commanded Moses to go and ask for the Israelites freedom, I mean put in perspective; If God came to you and said, “Go to North Korea and talk to the president, and ask him to free the people from communism”, would you be willing? Remember this is God commanding you to go...a tough one isn’t it, because it is not a particularly sane or realistic thing to do. Yet we read in scripture of these two men who were told to do ‘slightly insane’ things, and they did them because they were given the courage to achieve what had commanded of them.
You will most likely be familiar with the fuel ads on TV and Radio that have the catch phrase “What drives you?”... So, What drives you? Are you driven by fear imposed by Satan? Or are you driven by faith in a Great God, knowing that he has given you the gift of courage to do ALL things through him?
Many of us, by suppressing the ‘risk’ factor and taking the ‘low’, or no risk road, suppress Christ in us; we suppress his voice... his plan for us, because we close that door and often lock it down tight for fear that we might not achieve or may fail...for fear that the ‘risk’ may be too great...that if things don’t go perfectly, you will be seen as careless, ignorant, or seen as a failure in the eyes of the world.
What’s failure though? Would we rather fail God or fail in the eyes of man? Think about it...many of us will ditch what God is asking us to do, or just straight out ignore it because of FEAR, [Satan’s accent on life],of failure the in the eyes of man.
So we have to ask ourselves the question; whom do we fear most? Man? Or the God that breathed life into us... the God that has given us everything we have. Most of us won’t remember a time when the term ‘God fearing man’ was in use...a time when people had to have faith – ‘real’ faith, because they did not live in a world of convenience, but instead, they lived in a world where the had to trust for the simple things in life, looking to God for provision. How many God fearing men do you know today, [and I’m talking about within the church]...it’s not something heard about so much anymore – Why? We don’t hear about it because we live in a self sufficient, self centred society...even as Christians, we don’t need to rely on God anymore do we? After all, every thing we need is at our finger tips, and WE are in control! Don’t kid yourself! God giveth, and God taketh away...everything you have, including the air you breathe is because a gracious God has blessed you with. If you think you are in control, take a moment to look at the society and world in which you live; you are a part of this society and this world...you probably look down on it, and question what has become of it – well you are IT, you and fellow mankind, Christians and non Christians alike are society, and if you are not active in it, with Christ in you, doing the job that he has put you here for, then you a simply just a part of IT.
Why is it that in so many cases, we as Christians have forgotten,[or choose to ignore], that God has put us here for his purpose – not our own, and not the worlds – HIS!
Think about this...If we were to give everything we earned away to the poor and needy each payday, and only kept enough to live very simply, to live a humble existence, and to pass on without glory or status, we would be subjecting ourselves to judgement, ridicule and opinion. We would be seen as failures in this life, in this world; yet in Gods eyes, I believe we would be successful servants of Him, because we reached out where we could in a failing society, in love, and helped others as Christ would have done.
We are a tarnished people. We are tarnished with the beliefs and opinions of those who are not listening to God, tarnished with the short comings of this worlds character, and tarnished by the influence of Satan – the one for whom success equates to self importance, self love, and self destruction.
So I ask today...”Who Drives You”? The one who gives life, courage, and strength? Or the one who absorbs us with fear and selfishness?
Do you really have faith? Or do you ride it’s back for your own comfort? Have you locked the door on courage, and closed the door to the voice of God and His plan for your life?
As a Christian, I believe these are questions that we should visit regularly... sort of like a service on a car- to ensure we don’t loose the potential and performance that we are created for.